Datto Inverse Chain Technology

Inverse Chain Technology

Datto’s Inverse Chain Technology is the innovation that replaces traditional backups with the elegance of asynchronous mirroring, unifying a smarter backup.

All application-consistent recovery points for a protected server are Copy-on-Write snapshots on a shared Z File System volume, and they can be managed without the limitations that traditionally apply to chains of dependent incremental backups. The end result is a more efficient and resilient backup solution, a more affordable unified business continuity model that accelerates recovery, and a Disaster Recovery solution that seamlessly extends to the Datto Cloud.

Inverse Chain Technology provides

  • Decoupled retention planning from backup management: Delete backups without ever having to reset the backup chain, with freedom to keep different sets of recover points locally vs. in the Datto Cloud
  • Unified backup and business continuity: All recovery points are fully constructed application-consistent image backups
  • Improved Restore Time and Restore Point Objectives: Back up servers as frequently as every 5 minutes, automate DR testing, and never create any backup dependency chains
  • Optimal storage efficiency: Control backup storage costs with incremental-only backups, inline compression and inline data deduplication

A smarter backup process

Datto developed a smarter backup process, utilizing Datto’s Inverse Chain Technology, that revolutionizes and unifies data backup and business continuity for DR. Datto’s technology is at least a generation ahead of classic backup-only solutions, and it is available with all Datto SIRIS, Virtual SIRIS, and ALTO devices.

Classic backup solutions all have the same common challenge: They first create a base image, and then divide subsequent backup data into a collection of files that have a chain relationship. Close management of this backup chain, including pruning and routine full backups, is required to prevent the backup cycle from filling up the entire backup storage. Increasing backup frequency for improved RPOs makes longer and more fragile chains. Furthermore, if a single incremental in the chain becomes corrupt, then every point thereafter is also unusable. Attempts to solve this by scheduling more full backups leads to increased use of backup storage and demand on the network.

But 50,000 systems and hundreds of protected Petabytes ago, Datto innovated an alternative. Datto’s Inverse Chain Technology leverages the flexibility, reliability, and efficiency of ZFS, which is integrated into Datto SIRIS and ALTO devices, Virtual SIRIS deployments, and even extends to Datto’s cloud. Each time a protected server completes sending the changed data from a new backup, instead of creating yet another file in a dependent chain of files, those changes are mirrored into the corresponding data set on the Datto physical or virtual device for that protected server. Instead of longer and increasingly fragile chains of dependent files that would need reconstruction to access most of the restore points, Datto has a perfectly mirrored copy of the entire server at the front of the dataset.

Decouple retention planning from backup management

Whether it is Full or Incremental, or Differential, or Constructed Synthetic – Every classic backup method still creates a collection of dependent files, and each has compromises. At best, they can consolidate, but not delete, their stack of incrementals.

Datto’s Inverse Chain Technology enables full flexibility over incrementals. It is possible to instantly delete any recovery point for a protected server – and never have to reset the backup chain. Automated pruning enables the Datto Cloud to archive a different set of recovery points than the local Datto system.

Unifying backup and business continuity

Inverse Chain Technology offers another advantage: Instead of only the last backup being in a fully constructed state, with Datto’s Inverse Chain Technology every single successful backup for that protected server is always in a fully constructed and “ready-to-go” state. This may sound like it would consume extensive backup storage capacity. But Inverse Chain Technology actually minimizes use of backup storage capacity by leveraging ZFS’s “Copy on Write” capability. Each unique block of data is saved only once, and is referenced by all of the restore points that use it. With classic backups, the image for a protected server at almost every recovery point is available only after reconstruction.

With Datto, data for protected servers is saved in a universal virtual file format. Since each recovery point is always fully constructed, Inverse Chain Technology enables protected servers to be instantly virtualized, both local and in the Datto cloud! Datto SIRIS, Virtual SIRIS, and ALTO systems provide a hybrid cloud that leads to a complete SMB solution for data protection, and on-premises and off-premises disaster recovery / business continuance.

Improved Restore Point/Restore Time

Some backup methods eliminate the reconstruction which can delay recovery of the most recent backup only, with the tradeoff being significant “roll-up” overhead to constantly reconstruct that latest backup so it is ready for access. Some “reverse incremental” methods may triple the disk IO on a backup storage device, slowing backups for all servers, and possibly demanding more hardware investment to handle more IO transactions. These methods also significantly limit which recovery points can be deleted, and inherently limit increasing backup frequency for improved Recovery Point Objectives.

Datto Inverse Chain Technology means that since each completed backup has no dependencies on other backups, there is never a backup chain to slow down a recovery with reconstruction. Which liberates the solution from having more frequent backups – as frequently as every 5 minutes. Furthermore, continuous validation of backups become automated with Datto’s Screenshot Verification ensures no unexpected failure of recoveries.


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